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 Everett True

A song I’ve been meaning to track down for three decades

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This video was a staple at the Rock Garden in Covent Garden in the early 80s (they really didn’t have that many other videos to play). Above, there was an eaterie for the posh tourists, downstairs an overpriced small venue with annoyingly-placed pillars where I saw Birthday Party play for the first time(in front of eight pe0ple, us reaching up to catch Nick falling into the ‘crowd’ only to withdraw our arms at the last second), The Go-Betweens, The Moodists (my 21st birthday), even my own college band Futile Hurling, New Order’s first ever gig (I think), The Sound, The Chefs (I’m fairly sure: at least I remember speed-talking to Helen in the crowd), Weekend’s post-Young Marble Giants debut gig (I shouted out for ‘Nostalgia’, and it got reported in the NME the next week), Josef K and all that crew (queued outside for 90 minutes before the doors opened), The Laughing Apple, Serious Drinking … dozens more. I lived and worked just around the corner in Soho most of the time I frequented the place.

We loved the song, me and Ian. Surreal and goofy and crucially it came out before the plethora of wacky 80s videos that followed.

Anyway. Here it is.

It was only a staple from 2.18, mind.

Fish heads fish heads
Roly poly fish heads
Fish heads fish heads
Eat them up, yum!
Ask a fish head anything you want to
They wont answer they cant talk.

I took a fish head out to see a movie
Didn’t have to pay to get it in.

They don’t play baseball
They don’t wear sweaters
They’re not good dancers
They don’t play drums!!

Not sure I like it as much now. Really not sure. It seems like those responsible are really annoying, actually. Plus, I heard it way too much back then. Still. It’s nice to know the culprits’ names. Barnes & Barnes.

I would avoid.

P.S. Now I think about it, that fish-head picture disc looks awfully familiar. Maybe I did track them down way back then but decided against buying it because I realised it wasn’t very good. Probably. Ah well, a mention of the song triggered fond memories – if not of the song itself.

3 Responses to A song I’ve been meaning to track down for three decades

  1. Erika February 7, 2012 at 12:25 am

    When you grow up in a little town the radio can be so important…. for me, the Dr. Demento show was HUGE. I am pretty sure the very first time I found Dr. D on my radio dial, FISH HEADS was number 1 on the “Funny Five,” and it stayed number 1 for a very long time. According to this site, it is the #1 Dr Demento songs of all time. http://solonor.com/100demented.html

    According to Wikipedia, “The song is about fish heads and all the things they can (or, more often, cannot) do, such as playing baseball, wearing sweaters, dancing, playing drums, or being seen drinking cappuccino in Italian restaurants with Oriental women. It is accompanied by a high-pitched chorus, achieved by speeding up the tape, which repeats the original’s chorus.”

  2. Joseph Kyle February 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Of course, it’s hard not to grow up into a guy who makes twisted music, when your childhood fame was created by Rod Serling!

    He was the star of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” which is one of the finest pieces of television drama IMHO. Also did a pretty good remake of it a few years ago, too.

  3. Wally February 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I remember this song and I guess it warped my childhood as it was played so often on the big screen at Barrymores that I eventually went it purchased it on Rhino records along with an album of songs done on a kazoo also on Rhino – they were some weird label and we loved it.

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